News Feature | September 16, 2014

Study: Web-Based Drug Pricing Resources Would Have 'Multiple Benefits'

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Web-Based Drug Pricing Policy

Out-of-pocket medication costs interfere with patient’s treatments, and a recent study found a web-based comparative drug pricing resource would help alleviate the problem.

Doctors express great interest in having access to a web-based resource that provides current prices of comparable brand name and generic drugs at pharmacies in a chosen zip code, according to a study conducted by Community Catalyst.

The study, Evaluation of a Model Comparative Drug Price Resource in Fostering Prescriber -Patient Engagement, Lowering Consumer Costs and Improving Adherence, investigated primary care physicians’ interest in a model web-based comparative drug pricing resource designed to create transparency of drug prices and Medicare D out-of-pocket costs. The study aimed to explore the factors affecting prescriber-patient communications regarding selection, costs, and affordability of prescription drugs, and to assess the appeal and potential utility of a model resource that provided comparative pricing information in improving shared decision-making between prescribers and patients.

The study presented physicians highly concerned about patients' abilities to pay for medications with hypothetical resources showing the retail and out-of-pocket costs for drugs at local pharmacies. The study found doctors felt the resource would likely facilitate discussions of affordability, reduce non-adherence, and improve patient engagement. Physicians also reported which comparative features were the most useful, how often they would use such a resource, and how such a resource might save time addressing cost.

Made possible through a California HealthCare Foundation grant, the study demonstrates reliable, accessible information on drug prices could lower patient costs, improve provider efficiency, and encourage medication adherence.

"Based on our pilot study, we suggest that comprehensive web-based drug pricing resources would have multiple benefits for both providers and their patients by fostering better patient-prescriber engagement, at the point of prescribing," the authors concluded. "Such a resource would provide providers with accurate price information for comparison between therapeutic options within any therapeutic class. Having ready access to this resource may give prescribers the confidence to initiate patient engagement, through communications about drug costs and affordability."